Arguments against a Constitutional Convention (also called a Con-Con) are plentiful and rightly so. The last Constitutional Convention resulted in a new government. Opening up the Constitution could be like opening Pandora’s box.
What happens with a federal government that is out of control? Representative Ken Ivory says that the distinct line between the federal government and states’ rights is the issue of our time. I believe it’s certainly in the top 2 or 3 issues. Yet how many times have the states ceded their power to the federal government. How many times have we rolled over, thrown up our hands and said there is nothing we can do? Or even worse, how many times have states gone to the federal government and asked for handouts, willingly accepting the strings that come with it. In the last year or two, we have seen what happens when “we the people” get fed up with the government. In fact, political pundit LaVar Webb points out:
In the business world, we have often seen the forces of “disruptive innovation” at work. Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen has written best-selling books about the inevitable process of large, bureaucratic, top-down, slow-moving businesses or industries being “disrupted” by small, nimble, innovative competitors using the latest technologies. In business, this process, while deadly for lethargic firms, eventually produces better products, superior customer service, and an upward spiral in efficiency, productivity, wealth creation, and quality of life.
This raises an intriguing question: Could the beneficial process of disruptive innovation work in government? Government obviously isn’t subject to the same competitive forces as are private businesses. Government operates by force and coercion, imposing its will by law and regulation, not according to market needs or consumer demand.
State legislatures have the right to tell the federal government to back off. They can do it through (mostly meaningless) resolutions. They can do it through bills that slap the feds in the face. They can do it through nullification attempts. They can also call for an Article V convention.
Article V reads as follows:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
On a state level, there are a couple of ways to change the state Constitution. The legislature can pass a bill by 2/3 in both the House and the Senate, then have it ratified by popular vote. Or, we can have a citizen’s initiative where a certain percentage of the population drives the movement to get an amendment put on the ballot. On the federal level, we can have an amendment passed (such as the Balanced Budget Amendment currently being talked about in DC), OR, we could have a Con-Con, OR we could have a state-called amendment convention.
If the Founding Fathers were truly concerned with the overgrowth of the federal government – and certainly all evidence points to that as a primary concern – then the inclusion of Article V is not an accident. It was meant to be one more check by the states on the federal government.
Look at DC right now and tell me that we don’t already have a runaway government that is acting outside the bounds of their Constitutional authority. We have TARP, we have Obamacare shoved down our throats, we have unelected, powerful czars and we have lame duck sessions where bills like S510 were passed on a voice vote late in the evening, in spite of significant opposition. In addition, we have secretaries – like Ken Salazar, of the Department of the Interior – who have proclaimed that he and his department can now circumvent the Constitution in declaring wild lands and departments like the EPA who regulate by rule when they can’t get the laws they want passed by Congress.
As someone who loves the Constitution, and who loves this country, I am tired of rolling over and letting the federal government trample our rights. I believe we SHOULD use the tools the Founding Fathers gave us to push back against this egregious federal over-reach and for this reason, I support the states banding together and proposing an Article V amendment convention.